Philadelphia Eagles: The Good, Bad and Ugly of the First 4 Games of the Season
Who would have thought that after the Philadelphia Eagles' struggles last season in the fourth quarter they would be 3-1 after four weeks of the season with a combined margin of victory of four points?
After Philadelphia's thrilling 19-17 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, fans are beginning to believe that this team can make a Super Bowl run. That is, if the Eagles can keep this up. There is some reason to believe that they can, but of course, there is also plenty of reasons to believe that they cannot.
The Eagles are 3-1. They're leading the NFC East. That's definitely worth being excited about, but this year hasn't been perfect by any means. There has been a lot of good, a lot of bad and even a bit of ugly.
Good: DeSean Jackson
After admitting that he wasn't fully focused last season in the midst of his contract situation, DeSean Jackson needed to have a big 2012 season in order to regain the full respect of Philadelphia fans.
Jackson signed his five-year, $47 million deal and reported to camp ready to go. Through the first four games, Jackson has been visibly better than last season. He's making catches that he would have previously dropped, and he's back to his old energetic self.
Jackson has 20 receptions so far this season for 333 yards and one touchdown. If he keeps this up, he could have his third 1,000-yard receiving year of his career.
Good: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was ready to play a bigger role after the Eagles traded Asante Samuel to Atlanta.
So far, Rodgers-Cromartie has been the best cornerback on the team. He has intercepted three passes, two of which came in Week 1 against Cleveland.
Thanks to DRC, the Eagles rank eighth in the league in passing defense, surrendering only 206.8 yards per game.
Nnamdi Asomugha gets a lot of the focus from the media because of his massive five-year, $60 million contract, but Rodgers-Cromartie is playing like a Pro Bowler.
Good: Juan Castillo
Maybe it did just take the Eagles defense a while to adjust to Juan Castillo and the Wide 9 defense.
When the Eagles won their final four games last season, the defense looked very strong. Many fans were skeptical and still wanted to see Castillo get fired, but the Eagles stuck with him, and it looks like that has paid off.
The Eagles defense ranks eighth in the league in total defense and seventh in yards allowed, surrendering an average of 298.3 per game.
Castillo has helped return the Eagles defense to one of the most feared in the league.
Bad: Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi Asomugha isn't playing horribly, but he certainly is not living up to his contract.
The Eagles brought in the marquee free agent after the lockout, and he has not lived up to expectations. Asomugha has looked shaky in coverage and has been called for too many pass-interference penalties.
If Asomugha begins playing like he did when he was with the Oakland Raiders, then the Eagles defense could be absolutely dominant. But, until that happens, the unit still has some flaws.
Bad: LeSean McCoy's Workload
LeSean McCoy proved last year that he is an elite back in the National Football League after rushing for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns.
So far this year, McCoy's stats have been underwhelming, as he has 384 yards and one touchdown through four games.
A lot of that can be blamed on the amount of carries McCoy is getting. McCoy has carried the ball 81 times this year for an average of about 20 rushes per game. A running back of McCoy's caliber needs to have 25-30 carries in a game.
Andy Reid is a pass-first coach, but if he would give McCoy the ball more, the passing game would open up because opposing defenses would be concerned about the threat of the run.
Bad: Left Tackle
After news broke that Jason Peters would be missing the entire season, the immediate concern became who would take the spot of the Pro Bowl left tackle.
The Eagles signed Demetress Bell in the offseason, but it was King Dunlap who started the season. Dunlap's poor play caused the pocket to close on Michael Vick and also slowed down the running game.
Bell played in the Eagles' victory against the Giants and looks like he has taken the starting job from Dunlap.
The Eagles are fortunate to be sitting at 3-1 considering the number of times they have turned the ball over.
Philadelphia has 12 turnovers this season. The only team with more is the 1-3 Kansas City Chiefs with 15. As if the number of turnovers wasn't bad enough, consider that eight of them were from quarterback Michael Vick.
Vick has thrown six interceptions in the first four games and has fumbled the ball twice. It's hard to imagine this team continuing to win if its quarterback cannot protect the football.
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